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August 2, 2014: The Writing Life: Being Biographer

Friday my writing-related job description became more all-encompassing. What happened was that I became Bill Fuller’s biographer. I wasn’t expecting this to happen, but I’m not surprised that it did. Deep down, I think I suspected that I knew this was an inevitability. I didn’t even apply for the job; rather, it just fell into my lap.

I was the most logical choice for the job, since I have more than a passing interest in creative nonfiction writing, this including memoir, biography, and journal writing.

Our old cabin on Cloudberry

This happened in a near-serendipitous fashion. I was then standing in the Fuller living room, surrounded by boxes of stuff. Right then Emily (Bill’s daughter) said to no one in particular, “here are some of Bill’s journals!” I asked her what she was going to do with them. “Dump ‘em” she said. The words that then came out of my mouth were “I’ll take them!” Emily put them in a clear plastic Tupperware container, and I put them in the back of the Mother ship.

Later, I gravitated in the direction of Bill’s study, a single room on top of the garage. I then began putting photos, papers, and journals in piles on his bed. I put the piles in boxes, and then put them in the back of the Mother ship. A dozen or so boxes of material are now all neat piles on the floor of my study.

What now? I initially grabbed the material because I knew that it was all important to Bill. He was my friend, and I sensed that this is what he’d want me to do. Also, Bill was a very well-known man, and he did a lot of amazing things in his life. And so, if say, all this material was tossed, there would be no remaining record of his accomplishments.

This all leads to the question – really, what is the meaning of life? It very well may be that we live, do some amazing things, and then die. Some are lucky, and end up having someone acknowledge this. Others are unlucky – their life’s work is just pitched, never in any way to live on.

What to do now? At this point in time, I could just get a hold of Jen, one of Bill’s relations, and offer to send the good bits to her. She might then pass it on to other, interested family members. However, me being me, I’m going to take this project a step further. I’m going to do as Donald Murray said and “write for surprise” meaning, sort, read, and write. This process will have no specific expectation as to what the outcome of this undertaking might be.

I’ll begin by sorting stuff out further (i.e., photos, journals, letters from family members, and friends) and put it in some sort of logical order. And as I work, I’ll construct a metanarrative that records my thoughts as they relate to the process of writing, and to specific events in Bill’s life. I’ll begin by writing in the journal which contains Bill’s final thoughts. This is a huge project, one of many that I’m now working on. But I can do this if I take the time to do this.

Next: 211. 8/3/14: Garden of Weedin’ -- Late Summer Inventory